Pacific Symphony to make first visit to China

Updated: May 9, 2018 China Daily Print
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The Pacific Symphony, the largest orchestra formed in the US in the last 50 years, will make its debut in China on Wednesday.

The Orange County-based musicians will perform in five major Chinese cities during a week-long tour, starting with a performance at the Shanghai Poly Grand Theatre. Performances will follow in Hefei, Wuxi and Chongqing, and then conclude on May 15 at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts, designed by French architect Paul Andrew and completed in 2007.

Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte said the trip aims to build stronger ties between Americans and Chinese through connecting them with music. "I really believe that music is a universal language, and that when we perform on the stages of China, we as Americans are bringing a rose, a beautiful rose of friendship, to our Chinese listeners," he said.

"I think just by going to China, we make a statement, we are saying, we could have gone to Europe on a tour, but we have chosen China because we care about the culture and the people here in the region," Forsyte said.

He said the trip is also about honoring Chinese communities in Orange County, which he said has the third-largest Asian-American population in the United States. He said the orchestra has worked hard to engage, serve and welcome the local Chinese to its music hall.

Los Angeles Consul General Zhang Ping said the trip will promote cultural exchange between China and Southern California. "They are also willing to enhance their friendship with the Chinese people and to improve their understanding of them through this trip, so we think this is a very good thing," he said.

The consul general held a reception at the consulate on April 27 to commemorate the orchestra's contribution to building "a bridge of friendship across the Pacific Ocean". The ceremony included performances by Chinese and American artists.

Music Director Carl St. Clair, who has led the symphony for the last 28 years, called the trip to China ``an artistic milestone for the orchestra''.

The orchestra's performances will include works by Leonard Bernstein to celebrate the composer's centennial, according to St. Clair, who was mentored by Bernstein.

The Pacific Symphony, founded in 1978, holds more than 100 concerts a year and hosts various educational and community engagement programs. It performed in nine cities across three different Europeans countries in 2006, the orchestra's last trip abroad.

Forsyte said, he will look for opportunities to bring Chinese artists to Orange County to perform and he will also send musicians from the orchestra to teach in China. "So the bridge gets built, but who crosses it and when, I think we will just have to see how it develops over time," he said.

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